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The 2019 Dr Russell Cowie Excellence in History Education Award awarded to Dr Brian Hoepper

By 25/08/2019 September 22nd, 2019 No Comments
The 2019 Dr Russell Cowie excellence in history education award

During four decades, Dr Hamilton (Russell) Cowie (1931-2015) was the most influential force in history education in Queensland. His impact was multi-faceted. He was a brilliant and innovative teacher at both secondary and tertiary levels, led the development of inquiry-based syllabuses, pioneered a new era in history textbooks, helped found the state and national history teacher associations, and presented countless lectures and workshops at conferences.

Known affectionately to all as ‘Russ’, he was a towering and legendary figure in teacher education, admired by the legions of university students whom he nurtured into their professional lives.

Russ was the inaugural patron and life member of the Queensland History Teachers’ Association. He was promoted to Associate Professor by the University of Queensland and in 2013 was honoured by the nation with the Medal of the Order of Australia.

The Dr Russell Cowie ‘Excellence in History Education’ Award 2019 was presented to Dr Brian Hoepper by Kay Bishop (QHTA Patron) on 29th June 2019 during the QHTA History Teachers’ Association State Conference. 

As a colleague and dear friend of Dr Cowie, it is extremely fitting that Dr Brian Hoepper be the 2019 recipient of this most prestigious award. As many of you know, and for those who do not, Brian Hoepper has made an extraordinary contribution to the teaching and learning of History and other social sciences throughout Australia over several decades. Just like Russ, as a teacher, thinker, academic, historian, writer, committee member and all-round good (and smart!) bloke, Brian has been hugely influential in the field of History education.

During a school career beginning at Boonah SHS, and most recently by presenting Modern History workshops for QHTA around Queensland, Brian has encouraged and inspired thousands of secondary students to become inquiring, knowledgeable, critical and empathetic young people. As a lecturer at QUT (1984-2002) Brian, through his own example, inspired his tertiary students to become skillful, passionate and dedicated teachers. Parallel to this, at both a state and national level, he served on various advisory bodies charged with the responsibility to frame, write and implement meaningful History curriculum. In Queensland, ‘inquiry learning’, championed initially by Russ Cowie and later Brian, became the central focus of both the senior and junior history curricula in documents formulated by the Board of School Studies, later the Board of Senior Secondary School Studies (now the Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority). At a national level he played a significant role in discussions about what should be included in, and the writing of, the Australian Curriculum.

Throughout his career, even into his ‘retirement’, Brian has been extraordinarily influential in shaping the thinking and classroom practice of thousands of Australian History (and other) teachers by virtue of: his presentations at regional, state and national conferences, workshops and teacher meetings; and the writing of countless submissions, journal articles and texts. Beginning in the 1970s and continuing until 2019, inquiry based learning and other student-based teaching strategies have been encouraged and facilitated by the sources and other materials in the texts he has authored, co-authored and edited. These include the highly influential Inquiry (Vols 1 and 2), Global Voices (Vols 1 and 2), Teaching Humanities and Social Sciences and, most recently Senior Modern History for Queensland. An ongoing emphasis within his teaching, speaking and writing has been to ‘equip students with powerful tools and skills to make the connection between history and its relevance to their lives, and to make wise decisions about their roles as global citizens’.

QHTA and HTAA have been especially privileged to be the beneficiaries of Brian’s intellect, hard work and preparedness to contribute so much, in so many different ways to so many. From the early 1970s onwards, as a member of the QHTA Executive and In-Service Committee, Chair of the Publications Committee, Bulletin Editor, President (1980-81), Lifetime Member and most recently Patron, his contribution is unparalleled. No-one’s journal articles or keynote addresses are more thought-provoking; no-one’s conference workshops fill more rapidly or get such glowing reviews; no-one is prepared to visit teachers and students in regional and remote areas more readily and no-one is as entertaining or fun to be with at dinner or a conference! Those of you who know Brian will no doubt have your own memories of how he has influenced you. To those of you who don’t know Brian personally, suffice to say there is no-one, who is held in higher regard or respect by those who are currently on the Executive of QHTA – and many others!

As a keenly intelligent, caring and inspiring man and teacher, Brian has worked tirelessly for decades to embed good History teaching and learning in the curriculum. Indeed, no-one has contributed more. Consequently, Dr Brian Hoepper is a truly outstanding and deserving recipient of the 2019 Dr Russell Cowie ‘Excellence in History Education’ Award.

Certificate citation: “Awarded to Dr Brian Hoepper for excellence and his unparalleled leadership in History education. He is recognised by the Queensland History Teachers’ Association as an intelligent, passionate, innovative and inspiring teacher and leader, who has shaped the teaching and learning of History in Australia in a myriad of ways. As a classroom teacher, Brian has been instrumental in developing a love of history in secondary students and inspired his tertiary students to become skilful, passionate and dedicated teachers. As an interesting and thought-provoking presenter at conferences, he has motivated and equipped teachers around the nation to enhance their pedagogy and, as a researcher, writer and editor of History texts, he has provided all with invaluable teaching and learning resources. Additionally, Brian’s dedicated advocacy of History education and contribution to curriculum development and implementation have been truly outstanding.

For all these reasons, Dr Brian Hoepper is deeply admired and respected and, as such, is extremely deserving of the 2019 Dr Russell Cowie ‘Excellence in History Education’ Award.”